A few months ago, we had a spirited discussion about embracing the B-word. I fell into the Tina Fey school of thought (“B*tches get stuff done.”), believing that, most of the time, if someone breaks out the b-word, it’s because I’m standing up for myself. Others were reticent to embrace the word, and wondered if there were a way to be assertive and avoid it all together.
Enter, Jezebel and their article, “How to Quit Worrying About Being Bitchy and Actually Assert Yourself.”
My favorite advice in the post dealt with challenging your perception about what is “nice,” and not putting your desire to avoid confrontation ahead of your needs.
It can also lead to relationship problems. You may think you’re being nice by keeping your emotions to yourself, but you’re also depriving the people around you of the opportunity to know how you’re feeling. People who care about you — partners, friends, family members, etc. — don’t want to unintentionally bug you or make you feel bad. Nor do they deserve the simmering resentment you may start to feel if you never speak up. So while being assertive about your own needs may seem like a more confrontational choice in the short term, in the long term it can actually be the loving thing to do. Also, remember that a lot of prohibitions against women’s assertiveness are rooted in sexism.
The article had some good tips for women in the workplace and outside of it. I may not be the best advisor on this subject because my first instinct is usually to shoot from the hip without regard for the perceptions of others. But I’m improving on that front as I age, not so much because I care about being called a bitch, but because I’m learning other ways to communicate in the workplace. You can read more about those, here.
You can also look into Lois Frankel’s Book, Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It. I haven’t read it, yet, but it’s on my bedside table.